"Great Value and Performance"4.0 starson by GregU2
Pros: Outstanding features for price; great performance and economy
Cons: Sloping roof restricts overhead view, flimsy armrest
Summary: We were looking to replace an aging Impreza with either a Versa, Fit, Suzuki SX4, Vibe/Matrix, or Focus. I was impressed with the Matrix and was about to buy one when the dealer suggested test-driving an 08 Scion xB. I went back three times to compare the xB and Matrix and also test drove an xD and an 06 xB. I was impressed with the performance and ride of the 08 xB and after reading all the online reviews I could find, went ahead and bought a 5 speed manual that came back from a “deal gone bad” with about 7k miles on it. I’ve put about 2k miles on it in the past month and have been very impressed with this vehicle. My only reservation was fuel economy (full disclosure: I ride a gas-sipping motorcycle whenever the Upstate NY weather permits so fuel economy wasn’t quite the factor it would have been otherwise) so I’m glad to report that the mileage is better than EPA predicted. I get 25-27 mpg during my city/suburban commute; 31-32 mpg on the interstate with the cruise control set at 70 mph; and 29 mpg out of one tank burned up on twisty secondary roads in the Allegheny Mountains.
The handling, comfort, and performance are excellent. It has a lot of room for passengers and cargo and very good access to the upright front bucket seats. I had 6’4’’ and 6’ 2’’ passengers sitting behind each other with room to spare. The new model is a significant improvement over the old xB in highway stability and acceleration. The 2.4L has good low-end torque and moves the car quickly when needed. It corners very well with little body roll. I’m also pleased with the performance of the stability and traction control during recent sloppy and icy winter weather. I wasn’t able to get it to loose control despite trying in an empty parking lot - not a bad alternative to AWD.
Seats seem a bit soft to me, but are comfortable to my herniated lower back disks. The interior is ok, but nothing special – about what one would expect for a vehicle at this price point. Unlike many reviewers, I find the center-mounted digital speedometer and tachometer well positioned and welcome alternative to peering through the steering wheel. What isn’t expected is the range of standard safety features: side curtain airbags, stability control, traction control, ABS and disk brakes all around.
There are a few minor negatives. The sloping roof restricts overhead view of close traffic lights. The arm rest is flimsy and too narrow. The manual shifter is a little clunky and vague, but nothing one can’t get used too. The rear wiper doesn’t clear off much of the rear window. I haven’t noticed the alleged rear blind spot.
Overall, I highly recommend this car to anyone looking for an economical vehicle with more room than others in its class. I find the performance and features of the 08 xB to more than offset the fuel economy hit. The negative reviews I’ve read are more concerned with what Toyota did to the original xB. They may have a point – these are different vehicles with different appeal (I’m 50, certainly not Scion’s target demographic) but its not like Scion turned the xB into a Hummer! In fact, the footprint of the 08 xB is not much different than the old Impreza. They should have called this an “xE” and kept the old-style xB for the loyal aficionados.